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100 years and 7 months in gender diversity. A short summary of a long history

Every CEO, CFO, CIO, or COO in UK based asset management has a very, very full inbox this year.  Not only do they have to work out their respond to Mifid 2, BREXIT, as importantly for the pressure from clients and employees they must work to build teams who are as diverse as the clients who hand over their savings to them.  This related not just gender diversity but ethnicity, social diversity as well as including people from different sexual orientation (entitled LGBT+).  It is worth noting at this point here in UK there are only 2 female CEOs of major global asset management companies (both have successful businesses in DACH markets), Anne Richards, CEO of M&G, and Michelle Scrimgeour, CEO of Columbia Threadneedle Investments.  Encouraging more women to step forward and step up is vital to the success of the industry.

Looking back 100 years and 6 months   2018 started off with the celebration for many women and men.  On 6th February we celebrated 100 years of the British female suffrage which was fought for by Suffragettes and Suffragists as well as British trade unions. World War I, bringing more women into the world of work, accelerated this political change. Often, I must remind other women, frustrated by the slow rate of change, that even in the 1970s women could not buy a house on their own or set up their own business on their own, as banks would not lend to them as single individuals (lending was only if they were married).  So, the first lesson here is that social change, as we all quietly know, moves at glacial speed even though in today’s technological age we expect everything to be a click away with a mobile or a lap top. This may be the curse of expectation.

Here is Mrs Pankhurst (a suffragrette) fights for our right to vote in 1914.

I make this point because another slow-moving ice berg of social change has glided into our line of vision in the UK. Pay inequality has been in plain sight for a long time. I refer here of course to the mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the UK. Another anniversary for us here as from April 2018, every business in the UK with over 250 employees must record the pay gap between men and women. To summarize very broadly across the UK, it means for every £1 paid to a man for his work, a woman receives 80 pence for her work.  This creates enormous tension and frustration as clearly this means that women will lag not only in pay but in pension contributions. This will have huge implications for decades to come. The only person who I think is immune to the pay gap is Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May because I assume that she receives the same pay as her predecessor David Cameron who proposed this legislative change!

In fund management (like other professions, eg law and banking) the emerging statistics for 2018 did not make for good reading for many women. To quote from accountants PwC who analysed the results: “The median mean pay gap for all UK companies is around 14% compared to around 30% in investment management (figure 1) and a similar level across Financial Services. The median mean bonus gap for all UK companies is around 36% compared to around 67% in investment management (figure 2) and 59% across Financial Services.”

We look forward now to April 2019 to see what progress has been made. In our non-unionised world we have to realise that the answer has to come from us individually.

The basic underlying statistical issue and challenge is that there are not many women in key senior roles in fund management. Where there is some progress towards gender balance it tends to happen in HR and in marketing, if that.


About the Author
This article was written in a personal capacity by Sarah Dudney. Sarah works at The Buy-Side Club, is based in London, and speaks German, Italian and French.  The Buy -Side Club is a member of the Diversity Project. She has worked in search and recruitment for the past 15 years and has worked for leading global asset managers in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Luxembourg. She is originally from Scotland.  Here, she is writing in a personal capacity about the speed of women working in the financial business; next week she will write about diversity projects going on in the UK.

If you like to contact Sarah or give her your feedback:


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